'Lawsuit Loan Shark' bill to be heard in state House committee today

Ann Knef Nov. 16, 2010, 1:41am


SPRINGFIELD - A piece of legislation referred to as a "Lawsuit Loan Shark" bill will be heard today at a House Judiciary Committee hearing as state lawmakers convene for fall veto session.

The Non-Recourse Civil Litigation Funding Act, which would allow funds to be lent to litigants as their case proceeds through the court system, has been criticized as an incentive for meritless lawsuits.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is expected to provide testimony in opposition to the legislation, SB 3322, at today's hearing.

Earlier in the year, the ILR raised questions about the bill, such as, "Is the bill aimed at actually helping injured parties -- or creating more profits for trial lawyers and lawsuit lenders?

Sponsored by by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), SB 3322 passed unanimously in the Senate in March, then moved to the House.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville), a 20-year veteran lawmaker who was defeated Nov. 2, is one of the chief sponsors in the House. Hoffman is of counsel with the personal injury, class action firm LakinChapman of Wood River.

An article in the New York Times on Nov. 15 stated that lawsuit loans are "propelling" large and prominent cases.

"Large banks, hedge funds and private investors hungry for new and lucrative opportunities are bankrolling other people's lawsuits, pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into medical malpractice claims, divorce battles and class actions against corporations — all in the hope of sharing in the potential winnings," the article states.

The article also stated that, according to industry sources, total investments in lawsuits at any given time now exceeds $1 billion.

The Madison County Record is owned by the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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